I’m old enough to remember when marketing was genuinely expensive. Back in the day, in my business in Sydney we used to send a letter out with some sort of offer to the 8000 names in our client database.
About $8,000 by the time you factored in postage, printing and preparation time. For a small Financial Planning business that would be a pretty significant spend today. Back in the early 1990s you can imagine it was even more painful.
The late Jay Levinson published the original Guerilla Marketing book in 1984. In it he outlined how smaller firms could be great at marketing without the large corporate budget.
Modern marketing matters
Today, marketing yourself and your business has never been cheaper. Many of the tools you need to do so effectively are now free. For example, Mailchimp for sending sexy looking e-newsletters (like the FP Advance newsletter), and social media tools such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Here’s the thing. Whilst the marketing tools might be free, marketing yourself effectively still requires work, and lots of it. Creating great marketing is still time consuming, even if you outsource it. The only person who truly understands your clients and your business intimately is you.
We live in a world suffering from an ever-shortening attention span, as big news becomes bitesized and clickbait headlines shout for more attention. Today everyone can produce content. Hooray.
However, simply producing more noise is not effective guerilla marketing. It’s all about the quality. What you put out has to resonate with your target market.
Stay on target
What’s the purpose of your marketing? Eventually it’s to generate more business. However, a lot of stuff I see on social media just goes right for the jugular.
For example, someone that I don’t know personally, but who is connected to people I do know, will send a request to connect on LinkedIn. I’ll accept.
Next thing you know they’ve sent me a long message asking me to buy or promote their services. Can’t we have a kiss and a cuddle first please, mate? It’s a really poor way to promote your business.
All marketing has to start by creating some engagement. In order for people to buy, they first have to have some sort of relationship with you. For Financial Planners, Twitter, or LinkedIn, or Facebook is not a place to make sales, it’s a place to build connections.
Whatever you do to you market yourself, be it seminars, social media, blogging, or via professional connections, you have to build connection first. People still buy people as Social Media Keynote Speaker Phil Calvert is always, quite correctly, reminding us.
How do you connect?
Start by producing material that adds value. Forget about the sale. Be of value first.
In a world full of more noise than ever before, quality resonates. So take the time to create something that is worth your audience’s time to read or consider. It’s worth working with only a small audience if they are your tribe. Don’t buy Twitter followers, or send out ads to unknowns on Facebook. Let your 50 or 100 clients be your list and give them something that’s worth sharing with their friends, family and colleagues. Every one of your clients knows at least 200 people just like them.
Ensure that what you provide is relevant to your audience, by taking the time to identify your ideal clients top five issues
For example, if you are targeting business owners as a segment you might come up with the following issues or concerns:
- Business issues
- How much is enough?
- Family issues
- Tax issues
- Reducing time pressure
(See below for a more detailed outline of these top five issues for business owners).
Once you’ve captured your own insights into your clients’ top five issues, producing something of value for them becomes much easier.
Could you do any of the following to provide more explanation and depth around your clients top 5 issues?
- Articles or videos
- Talks – Presented at a local Chamber of Commerce
- E-newsletters – to your business-owner clients (that they can choose to share with their friends and connections who own businesses)
Any of the above sent to your professional connections that also work with business owners.
Golden rules of great marketing
Remember the two rules of marketing:
- Make it good
- Make it safe
For example: Don’t put a salesy ending on your brilliant insight into your article or video on the emotional challenges business owners face at retirement. As a reader I get it. I know the rules of the game. If I like what you say I might subscribe to your regular e-newsletter or video to get more, and at some point if I’ve liked lots of what you’ve said, I might even call and ask if I can come and talk to you.
You don’t need to be unsubtle, beating me with a sales stick. When you try to include some amateurish sales hook, or direct approach for business, you scare me off. We don’t have a relationship yet.
As financial services management guru Mark Tibergien said in his article Aspire to Be the Employer of Choice, there is “an oversupply of clients and an undersupply of people to provide advice.” Yet many advisers feel like they are struggling to tap into this supposed oversupply of clients.
Connections are king
The key to success is in getting your message out successfully in a world flooded with content. It’s easier than it’s ever been, but like anything worthwhile, it’s still not easy. You have to care about the quality. You have to care about the customers you’re trying to do business with. You have to build connections and some sort of relationship with them first.
Build the right connections and your marketing will matter much more to the people you want to work with.
Let me know how you go.
Top five issues for business owners
The following is a list of issues that regularly comes up with clients identifying the concerns of business owners. I’ve broken down each one into more detail so you can see how we got to the summary list above in the main article.
Issue 1 – Business concerns:
- Ongoing profitability or improving profitability
- Employee issues – hiring, training, retaining good people
- Pursuing new growth opportunities
- Just surviving
- Work/life balance
- Company tax and legal issues
- Succession (family or external)
- Maximising future sale value
Issue 2 – “How much is enough?”:
How much money will they need to have to be able to stop working at some future point? This may be either to hand over to the next generation of family involved in the business, internal successors, or even just to sell the business outright?
Issue 3 – Family concerns:
- Helping the children or grandchildren with education costs
- Paying for family holidays
- Helping the children or grandchildren with a deposit to get on the property ladder
- Doing estate planning to preserve wealth for the next generation – reducing IHT and ensuring the right money gets to the right people at the right time
- Care issues and costs for the parents of the business owner
- What happens if the business owner is unable to work due to accident or ill health?
Issue 4 – Tax issues (extracting value from the business in the form of income or capital tax effectively):
- Most tax effective ways to take income
- How to purchase a business premises or factory tax effectively
- Getting profit out of the business and into personal wealth tax effectively
- Minimising any capital gains tax on sale of the business
Issue 5 – Reducing time pressure and managing the work/life balance:
- Offloading or outsourcing tasks to businesses/people to free the business owner to do their best work
- Getting organised financially – someone to handle the paperwork and stuff that goes with it all